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Former Ukrainian Interior Minister Starts Hunger Strike In Detention

Former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko in the Court of Appeal in Kyiv on January 5
KYIV -- Former Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, who is in custody charged with abuse of office and misappropriation of funds, has begun a hunger strike to protest his arrest, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The website of the People's Self-Defense Party announced today that Lutsenko started the hunger strike despite requests by his wife and the party not to do so.

"Lutsenko started the hunger strike, as he does not see any other way to make his case move forward," the party statement says.

Lutsenko is a leader of the Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense (NUNS) political bloc in the Ukrainian parliament. He was arrested on December 26.

The Court of Appeals in Kyiv prolonged Lutsenko's arrest on April 21 for one more month. Lutsenko stated in court that day that he has contacted the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. He denies any wrongdoing and says his case is politically motivated.

Ukrainian parliament deputy Yuriy Hrymchak, who represents NUNS, said today the bloc would start collecting signatures next week for a petition to free Lutsenko on bail.

Hrymchak said deputies have already formally asked the prosecutor-general and investigators to release Lutsenko on bail.

Read more in Ukrainian here